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Development of a protocol for videoconferencing-based exposure and response prevention treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic

HumanInsight Development of a protocol for videoconferencing-based exposure and response prevention treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic

World J Psychiatry. 2023 Feb 19;13(2):60-74. doi: 10.5498/wjp.v13.i2.60. eCollection 2023 Feb 19.


BACKGROUND: The existing literature indicates that psychotherapeutic treatment, especially exposure and response prevention (ERP) is efficacious in treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic adversely impacted many patients with OCD and disrupted their usual treatment. Moreover, the pandemic forced a global switch to telemental health (TMH) services to maintain the standards and continuity of care. Consequently, clinicians are increasingly using TMH-based psychotherapeutic treatments to treat OCD. However, several challenges have made it difficult for them to implement these treatments in the changed circumstances imposed by the pandemic.

AIM: To describe the formulation, implementation, feasibility, and usefulness of videoconferencing-based ERP (VC-ERP) treatment for OCD during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.

METHODS: This prospective, observational study was conducted in the psychiatric unit of a multi-specialty hospital in north India over 12 mo (July 2020-June 2021). All patients with OCD were assessed using the home-based TMH services of the department. The VC-ERP protocol for OCD was the outcome of weekly Zoom meetings with a group of clinicians involved in administering the treatment. After a systematic evaluation of the available treatment options, an initial protocol for delivering VC-ERP was developed. Guidelines for clinicians and educational materials for patients and their families were prepared. The protocol was implemented among patients with OCD attending the TMH services, and their progress was monitored. The weekly meetings were used to upgrade the protocol to meet the needs of all stakeholders. Feasibility and efficacy outcomes were examined.

RESULTS: All patients were diagnosed with OCD as a primary or a comorbid condition according to the International Classification of Diseases, 10th version criteria. Out of 115 patients who attended the services during the study period, 37 were excluded from the final analysis. Of the remaining 78 patients, VC-ERP was initiated in 43 patients. Six patients dropped out, and three were hospitalized for inpatient ERP. Eleven patients have completed the full VC-ERP treatment. One patient completed the psychoeducation part of the protocol. VC-ERP is ongoing in 22 patients. The protocol for VC-ERP treatment was developed and upgraded online. A large proportion of the eligible patients (n = 34/43; 79%) actively engaged in the VC-ERP treatment. Drop-out rates were low (n = 6/43; 14%). Satisfaction with the treatment was adequate among patients, caregivers, and clinicians. Apart from hospitalization in 3 patients, there were no other adverse events. Hybrid care and stepped care approaches could be incorporated into the VC-ERP protocol. Therefore, the feasibility of VC-ERP treatment in terms of operational viability, service utilization, service engagement, need for additional in-person services, frequency of adverse events, and user satisfaction was adequate. The VC-ERP treatment was found to be efficacious in the 11 patients who had completed the full treatment. Significant reductions in symptoms and maintenance of treatment gains on follow-up were observed.

CONCLUSION: This study provided preliminary evidence for the feasibility and usefulness of VC-ERP in the treatment of OCD. The results suggest that VC-ERP can be a useful option in resource-constrained settings.

PMID:36925949 | PMC:PMC10011942 | DOI:10.5498/wjp.v13.i2.60

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